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Telling Tales

Last updated 3 years ago

Storytelling is one of the most entertaining and satisfying things human beings do. We probably invented language mainly to tell each other stories. 
In the U.K., this is National Storytelling Week, held for many years "to celebrate the power of the spoken story as a traditional craft, as a modern form of entertainment and as a powerful educational and therapeutic tool."
But we don't have to live "across the pond" to celebrate the pleasures of storytelling.
Why not plan a Family Storytelling Night at your house? Once a week, turn off the TV and video games and tell stories! Here are a few suggestions to get you going:
Think of a theme
Take turns deciding on a theme each week. Maybe you'll tell stories about pets or other animals one week. Another week, the theme might be trips - real or imaginary - or scary stories. If you choose the theme ahead of time, everyone has time to prepare something special to tell.
Vary the form
  • Storytelling is limited only by your imagination. Try formats like these:
  • Each week, let one family member choose a favorite story to read or listen to.
  • Let each person tell the story of an event they remember. 
  • Ask each person to describe an imaginary adventure.
  • Have everyone select a favorite character from a different story. Then, make up a group story that has all of those characters in it.
Act it out
Write titles or events within a story on separate pieces of paper. Choose stories you're all familiar with such as fairy tales or an event in a longer story you know such as "the day Harry Potter came to live with his relatives." This is like the game of Charades, but instead of acting out the words of the title, you act out the events of the story until someone guesses the title or the story event.
Add props
Develop a story with "props." Before story night, collect small objects from around your house like action figures, a paintbrush, a piece of fruit. Put them into a bag so nobody can see what's inside (pillowcases work well). 
Designate someone to start the story with a few sentences that set the scene and introduce a plot. Find story prompts online or make up your own, like this: "Did I ever tell you about the time I found a treasure? I was walking in the forest one day when suddenly, I saw a --." 
Stop and let one person reach into the bag—without looking—and pull out an object. Then, she or he continues the story, making sure that the object is part of the action. After adding a few sentences, that person pauses, and the next person draws an object out of the bag and continues the story.
With a little imagination, your whole family will see how much fun telling tales can be.
Next week, we'll look at the many ways storytelling can boost reading and writing skills.

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